Is Obama Being Too Cautious On Economy?

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William Greider of The Nation wonders if Barack Obama’s recent appointments indicate he won’t be the progressive savior many of the left hoped he’d be.

Obama’s choices have begun to define him. His victory, it appears, was a triumph for the cautious center-right politics that has described the Democratic party for several decades. Those of us who expected more were duped, not so much by Obama but by our own wishful thinking.

Greider focuses his worry on Obama’s support for the recent financial bailouts and specifically on Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s role in the Citigroup bailout. Greider’s complaint?

Wasting more public money on insolvent mastodons is the least of it. The real scandal is it doesn’t work. It can’t work because the black hole is too large even for Washington to fill. Government should take over the failing institutions or force them into bankruptcy, break them up and sell them off or mercifully relieve everyone, including the taxpayers.

I think it’s too soon to judge whether or not the bailouts are working. And Obama’s appointments fill me with a lot more confidence than would a slew of economic ideologues. What we have to remember is that we are in the very, very early stages of this financial crisis. We are not in a depression and we do not need radical maneuvers. We need a smart, coordinated approach. That seems to be the direction Obama is planning to head.

Obviously, just throwing money at the problem without stipulations on how that money is used is not the best solution. There have been some mistakes made in the initial release of funds. But, at this juncture, I still prefer trying to fix the system we have rather than blowing up the whole thing. Capitalism does not work without credit. Getting the markets flowing is more important than ideology.